Laura Andersen brings us the first book in an enthralling trilogy set in the dramatic, turbulent, world-altering years of Tudor England. What if Anne did not miscarry her son in January 1536, but instead gave birth to a healthy royal boy? Perfect for fans of Philipa Gregory and Allison Weir.
Henry IX, known as William, is a 17-year-old king struggling at the restraints of the regency and anxious to prove himself. With the French threatening battle and the Catholics plotting at home, Will trusts only three people: his older sister, Elizabeth; his best friend and loyal counselor, Dominic; and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by Anne Boleyn. Against an undercurrent of secret documents, conflicting intelligence operations, and private murder, William fights a foreign war and domestic rebellion with equal resolve. But when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession menaces a new generation of Tudors. Battlefields and council chambers, trials and executions, the blindness of first love and the betrayal of true friendship…How far will William go to get what he wants? Who will pay the price for a king’s revenge? And what twists of fate will set Elizabeth on the path to her destiny as England’s queen?–Description from Goodreads
After giving this one a chance, I am glad that I chose to read it. “The Boleyn King” does rewrite history. Rather than Anne being beheaded, accused of adultery and incest and all the other historical facts that we have come to know about this interesting woman, in this book she gives birth to a live baby boy and fulfills her duty to the king. I thought this was a very interesting premise to work with, and by the end, I was pretty pleased with the way the author chose to take her story and her characters.
Here is what I loved:
This book has an amazing setting and Laura Anderson has done a lovely job of making her characters feel like they have a pulse. They are opinionated, daring and altogether the kind of well rounded character that helps make reading such a good escape from daily life. The plot moves at a good pace and there were very few times when I felt my mind begin to wander onto other things. Although this was fiction, there was enough reality in the descriptions of life as it was then and enough research put into this novel and the historical period that it wasn’t all that much of a stretch for my mind to believe what I was reading.
I liked that the author didn’t rush this book or her characters into doing things that didn’t fit with the theme. This is the first book in a trilogy and I really think Ms. Anderson has a good grasp on how to unfold her events in a way that builds suspense and reach a satisfactory ending.
What I didn’t love so much:
There are changes in point of view as the characters switch from one to the next and at times I found those quite unexpected and jarring. This might work well for a soap opera, but while reading this book, although it was interesting enough to keep moving along, I found the changes were a bit distracting.
There were certain spots where I thought the author got away from herself a bit with the descriptions. Don’t get me wrong, there are many excellent descriptions that are both helpful and integral to the story, but there are also some places where I felt less words would have been equally as effective. Finally, I love romances, and I love history, but this book centered so much on the coming of age of four teenagers and the drama of a love triangle that I felt I lost touch with the book occasionally. I guess it just wasn’t quite what I had expected. Still good and still worth reading, just not what I expected from the description.
Overall, this was a really impressive first book. I look forward to reading the others in this series as they are released. If you are a fan of historical fiction, or have read and loved the Phillipa Gregory books, you might want to give this one a try. An author to keep a solid eye on.
This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher.